Honorary awards

Jack Mundey AO

The degree of Master of Environment (honoris causa) was conferred upon Mr Jack Mundey AO in 2001.


Chancellor, I have the honour to present Mr Jack Mundey AO for the conferring of the degree of Master of Environment (honoris causa).

Over the past thirty years, Jack Mundey has been a key figure in shaping Sydney. He moved to New South Wales from Queensland in 1951 to play rugby league for Parramatta. After three years with them, he began coaching clubs in western Sydney. He also worked as a plumber’s apprentice, and an ironworker. He joined the Communist Party of Australia in the mid-1950s.

In 1962, Jack Mundey was elected as a full-time organiser for the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation. He became a household name in the 1970s for his work with the Union which, under his progressive leadership, made the quality of the environment and social justice its major issues, and opposed the destruction of the City’s heritage.

Black bans imposed on building sites in the 1970s by the union, in Sydney and throughout Australia, drew public attention to the need to safeguard Australia's natural and urban heritage. These bans helped to protect areas of historic importance like The Rocks in Sydney, and were influential in preserving urban bushland, such as Kelly’s Bush in Hunters Hill, Sydney. In 1973, black bans became known as “Green Bans”, and prevented the demolition of buildings from Fremantle to Hobart. Also, at the invitation of local activists, the union supported various causes including feminism and anti-discrimination.

Jack Mundey’s interests and influence extend beyond trade unionism. He was a member of the National Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1973 to 1993, and has been chair of the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales since 1995. He was a lecturer at London's Centre of Environmental Studies and, in 1976, a speaker at the first United Nations Conference on the Built Environment. He has supported community groups, indigenous Australians, educational institutions, and anti-nuclear campaigns, and he speaks regularly at launches of environmental initiatives throughout Australia.

The degree of Master of Environment has been specially created by the University of Sydney in recognition of Mr Mundey’s extensive influence in this field and his encouragement of other people in their work for a better world.

In 2000, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia “for service to the identification and preservation of significant sections of Australia's natural and urban heritage through initiating ‘Green Bans’ and through the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales”.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting Mr Jack Mundey AO for admission to the degree of Master of Environment (honoris causa).